China's President Xi Jinping (L) and US President Donald Trump
China's President Xi Jinping (L) and US President Donald Trump
Photo: AFP

The Trump administration on Wednesday moved to block Chinese airlines from flying to the US. This comes amid escalating trade and travel tensions between the two countries, and follows China's failure to let United Airlines and Delta Air Lines resume flights to China this week.

The Transportation Department said it would suspend passenger flights of four Chinese airlines to and from the United States starting June 16.

The decision was a response to China's failure to let United Airlines and Delta Air Lines resume flights this week to China, which were suspended earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic that started in China's Wuhan province.

The Transportation Department said that China was violating an agreement between the two countries covering flights by each other's airlines.

"The Department will continue to engage our Chinese counterparts so both US and Chinese carriers can fully exercise their bilateral rights," the agency said in a statement.

"In the meantime, we will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours." The department said President Donald Trump could put the order into effect before June 16.

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